Attorneys for Terry Speaks are seeking to have the murder indictment against him thrown out, arguing that the state has no physical evidence that the 2012 murder and dismemberment of Bourbon Street dancer Jaren Lockhart took place in Jefferson Parish.
Judge Stephen Grefer, of the 24th Judicial District Court, could rule on the matter next week. Speaks’ trial is set for June 15.
Authorities say Lockhart was seen on security camera footage leaving the Temptations Gentlemen’s Club in the French Quarter on June 6, 2012, with Speaks and his then-girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, who is being tried separately.
The couple is accused of stabbing Lockhart at their Kenner apartment, dismembering her body and throwing the pieces into Mississippi waterways.
Parts of Lockhart’s body began washing up on the beach in Hancock County hours after Sanchez’s car was photographed leaving Louisiana and returning a short time later.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office handed the case over to Kenner police and Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick last year, but defense attorney John Benz’s motion argues that extensive searches of the apartment and vehicle produced no physical evidence to establish the crime happened in Louisiana.
In a hearing Thursday morning, Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese submitted the testimony of two detectives at a hearing on the case against Sanchez a year ago, among other pieces of evidence.
Benz objected, noting that Sanchez’s case has been severed from the one against Speaks. Benz added that neither Speaks nor his attorneys were present at the hearing where the detectives testified, and he said he will not call on Sanchez to testify at Speaks’ trial.
“I can’t cross-examine a transcript,” he told Grefer, arguing the evidence is hearsay.
Freese said the state agrees the transcript is hearsay, but he cited precedent establishing that hearsay is admissible in a hearing on a motion to quash an indictment over concerns about the venue. Grefer ruled the state’s submissions would be allowed.
But because neither the court nor Benz has had time to review the transcript and other materials, Grefer scheduled arguments on the motion for Wednesday, with a fallback date of June 2.
Grefer last week denied a defense motion to delay the June 15 trial, saying the attorneys have had plenty of time to prepare.
A date has not been set for Sanchez’s trial.
Sanchez and Speaks are charged with second-degree murder and obstruction of justice, the latter related to the dismemberment of Lockhart’s body. If convicted, they face life in prison.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.